Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Florida Aquarium salsa dances and expands coral research in trip to Cuba

TAMPA — The Florida Aquarium's most recent trip to Cuba marked the eighth time scientists from the Tampa center worked with counterparts from Cuba's National Aquarium in Havana on restoring coral reefs in the Caribbean.

The trip March 21-26 brought both scientific and personal advances for the teams — construction of Cuba's first underwater coral nursery and progress toward communicating with one another in Spanish and English.

The language progress, it turns out, is all above the water. Under the surface, it hasn't really mattered since the day the teams started working together in November 2015.

"You can't talk underwater," said Margo McKnight, vice president of biological operations at the Florida Aquarium. "All divers speak the same language with their bodies. Being underwater is a great language neutralizer."

The new coral nursery is in the Gulf of Mexico off the island nation's westernmost point — the coast of Cuba's Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park.

The nursery is made up of 20 "coral trees" — structures made primarily of plastic pipe that are 15 feet long and anchored to the sea floor. Fragments collected from healthy coral reefs off the southwest tip of Cuba are hung from the trees. Each tree can hold up to 60 fragments.

When fragments mature in a year or two, they are replanted on depleted natural reefs.

The nurseries provide a benefit Mother Nature does not: The fragments can be separated so they don't compete for light or space, McKnight said.

"They can grow faster and healthier in this way," she said. "And can be better protected from predators."

The setup mimics an underwater nursery in Key Largo built and maintained by the non-profit Coral Restoration Foundation. The Florida Aquarium provided the structures and know-how and taught the entire process to the Cuba aquarium.

Among the most memorable moments of the recent collaboration, McKnight said, were when the Cubans broke out on the boat deck with a salsa dance.

By week's end, she said with a chuckle, the Florida Aquarium team was joining in with their Cuban colleagues.

"They are super fun and hard workers," McKnight said.

More than half the Caribbean's coral reefs, home to more than 4,000 species of fish and countless species of plants, have died since 1970, according to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. The Caribbean region includes Florida.

Yet, the only place in Cuba where coral is dying is in the water off Havana, the island's busiest city. The rest of Cuba's reefs remain nearly pristine, likely due to less pollution and development.

By studying Cuba's healthy reefs, the Florida Aquarium hopes to learn ways of bringing back the Sunshine State's coral.

Meantime, the two aquariums will continue to work together on how to reproduce coral in a controlled setting and on designs for a land-based coral greenhouse to be built in Havana in the next two to three years.

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

     
Comments
Mario Batali on leave from ‘The Chew’ and restaurant empire after sexual harassment allegations

Mario Batali on leave from ‘The Chew’ and restaurant empire after sexual harassment allegations

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein story, chef and television personality Mario Batali offered up his views on how to combat sexual harassment in the workplace for an Oct. 30 video for Fast Company."You need a workplace free of fear, that harbors an...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Pipe bomb strapped to man explodes in New York City subway, injuring 4

Pipe bomb strapped to man explodes in New York City subway, injuring 4

NEW YORK — A man with a pipe bomb strapped to him set off the crude device in the subway near Times Square on Monday, injuring the suspect and three other people at the height of the morning rush hour.The man and three others were being treated for n...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Space heater may have sparked fire that destroyed St. Petersburg home

ST. PETERSBURG — A space heater may have sparked a fire that destroyed a home in St. Petersburg on Sunday afternoon.St. Petersburg fire officials say the fire occurred some time before 3 p.m. at 1225 21st St. S.According to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Video gives animated tour of new Pier District

Video gives animated tour of new Pier District

Eager to see what the new Pier District will look like? A new animated video takes you on a bird’s eye and close-up tour of the $76 million waterfront attraction. Travel from the pavilion and plaza, through the coastal thicket and past the edu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ticket-fighting firm hires former Florida Bar president to sue the Bar

Ticket-fighting firm hires former Florida Bar president to sue the Bar

Times Staff WriterWell, this is awkward. A company that is suing the Florida Bar has hired a former Bar president to represent it. Ramon Abadin has joined the legal team of TIKD, a company that expedites the process of fighting traffic tickets in Pin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Do Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter get along?

Rick and Tom podcast: Do Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter get along?

The Bucs guarantee another losing season after turning the ball over five times in a 24-21 loss to the Lions. In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones talk about how the Bucs stayed in the game until the end despite a non-existent pass rush...
Updated: 1 hour ago
PolitiFact Florida: Does Andrew Gillum want to make Florida a sanctuary state?

PolitiFact Florida: Does Andrew Gillum want to make Florida a sanctuary state?

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is using the controversial topic of sanctuary cities to drum up Republican support in his bid for governor. At a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Putnam warned voters that one of his Democratic opponents wa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War-era fairytale "The Shape of Water" swam away with a leading seven nominations from the Golden Globes, while the HBO drama "Big Little Lies" led the television nominees with six nods.The nominees for best picture drama ar...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Will misconduct scandals make men wary of women at work?

Will misconduct scandals make men wary of women at work?

NEW YORK — Some women, and men, worry the same climate that’s emboldening women to speak up about sexual misconduct could backfire by making some men wary of female colleagues. Forget private meetings and get-to-know-you dinners. Beware of banter. Th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

Firefighters brace for second week of California wildfires

LOS ANGELES — As Southern California enters its second week engulfed in flames, fire officials anticipate more growth and danger due to continued strong wind gusts, no rain and decades-old dry vegetation. A powerful flare-up on the western edge of th...
Updated: 3 hours ago